The silence said it all. At the end of the winter journey – the long, dark night of the soul portrayed in Schubert’s song-cycle – it took the audience an age to break into applause. But when it came it was heartfelt, and no wonder.
In performing a masterpiece that stares deep into the abyss of death, neither baritone Marcus Farnsworth nor pianist James Baillieu was afraid to coarsen his tone to evoke the grief of lost love.
Ruckblick (Retrospect), for example, had the true feel of a dark, bitter scherzo, immediately countered by a brightened piano tone in Fruhlingstraume (Dream of Springtime). Die Post (The Post) had a rhythmic vitality capped by the repeated shouts of ‘Mein herz’ (My heart), countered in turn by the bleakness of Der Greise Kopf (The Grey Head).
Details were sharply handled but the momentum was inexorable, through to the final Der Leiermann (Hurdy-Gurdy Man), the music disappearing, deadpan, into the nothingness of death.
These are young musicians with major awards already to their names: no wonder.